In NBC's The Cape, Dave Lyons plays Vince Faraday, a cop who assumes the mantle of his son's favorite comic-book hero after he's left for dead by his corrupt police force. How do the first clips look? Spoilers on!
In The Cape - which debuts midseason on NBC - Lyons stars as the titular hero, a non-powered supe from the presumably fictional Palm City. (I doubt they'll set it in Palm City, Florida. Can you imagine wearing a cape in that weather?) The Cape has military training, but like Batman, he's very much grounded in the real world. Unlike Batman, The Cape hangs out with carnies. No, seriously.
(As much as I hate to razz on a show before it airs, I can't get the image of a Carny Batman out of my head. The image of a disheveled Bruce Wayne - spitting tobacco juice and apprehending candy-apple thieves - is too rich not to imagine.)
Anyway, The Cape also stars Summer Glau as Orwell, a blogger who fights Palm City's corruption; Keith David as Max Malini, Faraday's bank robber/circus gang mentor; and James Frain as the billionaire Peter Fleming/the villainous killer Chess. That's a solid backing cast - let's not forget Keith David voiced Goliath from Gargoyles and beat the tar out of Rowdy Roddy Piper in the most intense fight scene in cinematic history.
How does the pilot for the show look? Let's take a peek - in this first clip, Faraday reads the comic book The Cape to his son Trip (Ryan Wynott) when his wife Dana (Jennifer Ferrin) isn't looking.
Okay, this looks wholesome, like a story Stan Lee would put his imprimatur of Excelsior-ness all over. It's a good thing Trip reads a fairly normal hero like The Cape. If he were a Ghost Rider fan, Vince would have his work cut out for him. You shouldn't have to immolate your head to impress your son.
Here's the next clip - Vince, who is dressed up as Chess, has been set up by the police. Brace yourself for some explosions and melodrama.
I like Chess' costume (or at least I'm assuming it's Chess' costume) - sort of like Ian McKellen's Magneto meets Klaus Kinski's helmet from Aguirre, The Wrath of God. From the text on the newscast, it looks like Vince has been framed for Chess' murders. The idea of a serial killer billionaire also sounds like Mark Millar's Nemesis series. On to the next clip...
It's Max arguing with Vince about becoming The Cape. If you're going to become a powerless superhero, the circus tack is the way to go. It gives things at least a modicum of realism (see: Dick Grayson). Becoming a superhero to impress your son is a strange idea, but if your name is irrevocably besmirched and you're left for dead, it's a more prime time-worthy option than am-scraying to Mexico, doctoring a fake birth certificate, and working as a scrap metal collector for the rest of your life.
Based on these three (admittedly short) clips, what's my verdict on The Cape? It looks like it will appeal to those who savor their superheroics with a twinge of old-school moral rectitude. The show gives off a Smallville vibe at times. The Cape may look fusty to some readers, but if you're tired of edgy, superhero deconstructionist yarns, this could be what you want. Of course, we'll reserve judgment until next season.
Here are two more previews. In the first, Dave Lyons tells The Cape's story (and also talks about how The Cape's surrounded by "carnival folk"). In the second, Vince and his cop friend Marty Voyt (Dorian Missick) meet the supercilious supervillain Fleming/Chess.